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Old 05-11-2022, 04:09 AM   #1
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White Tree Names of the Stewards of Gondor

Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien, footnote in NoME 2.V
Why after Mardil Voronwe the Quenya names [of the Stewards of Gondor] were abandoned is not clear; but it was probably simply a part of the ritual "humility" of the Ruling Stwards [...]. I say 'ritual', because it was impossible that any King should return, unless he were a descendent of Elendil from Isildur not Anarion. But from Pelendur onwards the Ruling Stewards were determined not to receive any such claimant, but to remain supreme rulers of Gondor. It may anyway be observed that though Quenya names were not used, those used were probably all the names of renowned heroes in the royal lines of old as recorded in legend. Some may come from tales now lost; but Hurin, Turin, Hador, Barahir, Dior, Denethor, Orodreth, Ecthelion, Egalmoth, Beren are from legends recorded.
I find this quote (from the Hostetter book, The Nature of Middle-earth) intriguing. I think we have to ignore the implication that the kings of Gondor claimed descent from all the characters named above - even if we ignore the various elves, Turin famously has no children! But the notion that the Stewards deliberately chose legendary names to cement their authority is fascinating. I also appreciate Tolkien making it clear that Denethor's obstructionism regarding Aragorn wasn't an aberration, but a deliberate policy by the entire House of Stewards.

But also - those names! There are 26 Ruling Stewards after Mardil, from Eradan to Faramir, which can be broken up as follows:

- 9 Mannish names: Hurin x2, Turin x2, Hador, Barahir, Boromir, Beren, *Faramir
---- The royal line claimed descent from Hador, Barahir, Boromir, and Beren. Faramir is unique as the only Third Age name on the list, being from a Gondorian prince.
- 7 Elvish names: Denethor x2, Orodreth, Ecthelion x2, Egalmoth, Turgon
---- The royal line was descended from Turgon, through Idril.
- 1 half-elf: Dior
---- The royal line was descended from Dior
- 9 otherwise unknown names: Eradan, Herion, Belegorn, Cirion, Hallas, Belecthor x2, Beregond, Thorondir

It seems significant that Eradan, Herion, and Belegorn are the first three successors to Mardil. Eradan and Herion were born before the king vanished, and Belegorn only 24 years after, when it was still possible that he could come back. Add to that the fact that Belegorn's son and heir was named Hurin (after the founder of the House of the Stewards), and I think - despite Tolkien's implication - that those three were just general Sindarin names. But the other unknown names - Cirion, Hallas, Belecthor, Beregond, Thorondir - could very much be names from unknown legends.
  • Beregond ("?Bold Stone") sounds like a Beorian name, similar to Beren's cousins Baragund and Belegund. We don't have many Beorian tales (mostly just Beor himself, Bereg the traitor, and Beren), so it's entirely plausible Gondor would have retained another "early Beorian" story about a Beregond.
  • Belecthor ("Mighty Eagle") could also be Beorian. I note that Belecthor II was actually the son of Beregond - could it be that these two characters were from a single legend? In which case:
  • Thorondir ("Eagle-friend") is the son of Belecthor II. Given that we know at least one instance of father-son naming in the Stewards (Hurin I > Turin I), it seems almost too easy to imagine a tale of the brothers Beregond and Belecthor, cousins of a Lord of Ladros, who have an encounter with the Great Eagles that leads Belecthor to name his son after Thorondor...
  • Hallas ("?Tall One") is an interesting one, because at one point Tolkien considered it as the name of a son of Orodreth. That would have made him a sister of Finduilas, and a prime candidate for a Steward's name - but the character vanished and/or was replaced by Gil-Galad. It's hard to see how he could be worked back in as an elf - the other elvish names were either kings or Lords of Gondolin, so there's not really space left. However:
  • Cirion ("?Ship-man") is Hallas' father. The name immediately evokes "Cirdan", but it's difficult to see how a shipwright or sailor could fit into the Mannish tales of the First Age. Y'know... except one. Is it possible that Cirion was named, obliquely, after Earendil himself - and then named his son, with similar subtlety, after Elendil the Tall? It would fit, for the steward who took it on himself to alter the borders of Gondor and move the sacred tomb of Elendil - and it's noteworthy that Hallas' son and heir was Hurin II, once again evoking the royal lineage and ancient authority of the House of the Stewards.

All this is, obviously, speculation - but it's fun to think about, and the Beregond-Belecthor-Thorondil part in particular hangs together a bit too neatly to be entirely coincidence.

Have you burned the ships that could bear you back again? ~Finrod: The Rock Opera
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Old 05-11-2022, 10:11 AM   #2
William Cloud Hicklin
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Note though the apparent goof on Tolkien's part: as you point out, Eradan and Herion were born when there was still a King, and the Stewards were still using Quenya names. I suppose, if one had to shoehorn it, that Mardil's son upon taking up his father's rod 'translated' his Quenya name into Sindarin, which would make him the originator of this policy of outward humility. (Insert digression on the Noldorin use of Sindarin names in Middle-earth)
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Old 05-12-2022, 06:58 PM   #3
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I once posited Belecthor as a name that Tolkien might have used instead of Rog, if he'd ever finished the later tale of Tuor. It seems to fit nicely with a character known as "the strong", and both Belecthors come in a sequence of Stewards mostly with connections to the story of Gondolin. Head-canon though it may be, the fact that the name is unused elsewhere and that the tale was never finished fits well with the conceit of it coming from a lost legend.
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